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About Catholic Charismatic Renewal

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The Holy Spirit, Vatican, Rome

An Introduction

The Church was born on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:1-14).

In obedience to Jesus’ request after his resurrection, the apostles remained in Jerusalem to await the gift and promise of the Father; the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).

The Holy Spirit would then empower them to be witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1:8). Together with Mary, the mother of Jesus, they prayerfully awaited this gift (Acts 1:14). When the day of Pentecost came, a violent wind filled the house where they were sitting, tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:2-4).


Historical Perspective

For the first few centuries of the Church’s history, these gifts (or “charisms”) of the Spirit were very common in the lives of believers. They are listed by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 12:1-11: wisdom, the word of knowledge, the gift of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, the ability to discern different spirits and the mysterious gift of tongues and its interpretation. These gifts are the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and are given by God for the common good, as he determines: they are not “earned” or “merited”.

As the church became more institutionalized, the gifts of the Spirit became less common and were seen only in the lives of the great “Saints”. Some, such as St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) initially thought that they were meant only for the early Church, to “kick-start” her, so to speak. However, he later withdrew this opinion in his Retractions, when he himself witnessed the gifts in abundance in his own Diocese. Later one sees the gifts in evidence in the lives of St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), St. Dominic (1170-1221), St. Catherine of Siena (1330-1380), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), St. John Bosco (1815 1888), The Cure of Ars (St. John Vianney, 1786-1859) and many others down the centuries. The Cure of Ars is known to have had the gift of tongues.

Pope Leo XIII


Pope Leo XIII and the Spirit

Between 1895 and 1903, Sister (now Blessed) Elena Guerra, foundress of the Oblate Sisters of The Holy Spirit in Italy, wrote 12 confidential letters to Pope Leo XIII, asking that he foster devotion in the church to the Holy Spirit. As a result, the Pope published his encyclical on the Holy Spirit Divinum Illud Munus in 1897. He also sent a private letter to all bishops, prescribing that the Novena for Pentecost be prayed at the dawn of the new 20th century.

God of Surprises
On the night of December 31, 1900, a group of Methodists, led by Agnes Osman and Rev. Charles Parham of Topeka, Kansas, experienced an unexpected outpouring of the Holy Spirit after studying the Acts of the Apostles. The request of Pope Leo XXIII had received only a half-hearted response from the Catholic bishops, so God turned to his “little ones”, “the anawim”. Thus, the modern-day Pentecostal movement began among Protestants.

A Council and the New Pentecost
The call of Pope Leo XIII was picked up by Pope (now Blessed) John XXIII in April 1959 on beatifying Sister Elena Guerra.

When convoking the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council later that year Pope John prayed specifically for “the Divine Spirit to renew his wonders in our time, as by a ‘New Pentecost’”.

The Council, in essence, was to lay the foundation for this New Pentecost by providing “new wineskins” for the Church (see Mt 9:16-17).

Pope John XXIII
Patti Gallagher-Mansfield Catholic Renewal Starts

In February, 1967, during a Duquesne University student retreat at The Ark and the Dove Retreat House outside of Pittsburgh, PA, one of the students, Patti Gallagher-Mansfield felt drawn to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. She, and a number of other students who had joined her were later found prostrate before the Tabernacle. There, before Jesus’ Eucharistic presence, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was born. They had all been overwhelmed by the majesty, power and presence of God. The movement spread rapidly throughout the United States and the world. It is estimated that today in excess of 75 million Catholics worldwide have had contact with this renewal and have experienced their own personal Pentecost.

Papal Quotes on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Pope Paul VI: During the holy year of 1975, before ten thousand participants of the international Charismatic Conference assembled in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Pope Paul VI described this spiritual renewal as a “chance”, or “opportunity” for the Church.

Pope John Paul II: “For this reason, I also say to you: ‘Open yourselves with docility to the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Receive with gratitude and obedience the charisms that the Spirit does not cease to offer! Do not forget that all charisms are given for the common good, that is, for the benefit of the whole Church!” 1998

“The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has helped many Christians to rediscover the presence and power of the Holy Spirit... and this rediscovery has awakened in them a faith in Christ filled with joy.” 1998

“Open yourselves meekly to the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Accept with gratitude and obedience the gifts that the Spirit does not cease to give! Do not forget that each charism is given for the common, in other words for the benefit of the Church!” May 2004

“Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives. I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the Church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.” May 29, 2004

Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger): “...and the Charismatic Renewal ...I think this is a sign of the Springtime and of the presence of the Holy Spirit, today will give new charisms and so on. This is for me really a great hope that not with organization from authorities, but really it is the force of the Holy Spirit present in the people.”

Pope John Paul II

Pope Benedict XVI

SCRC Convention Arena 2006

The beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
in Southern California


In 1970, at Loyola University a talk was given on the modern day movement of the Holy Spirit. A charismatic prayer group was then formed on campus. In 1971, Fr. Ralph Tichenor, SJ, became the groups’ spiritual director, and experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The prayer group spawned many other Southern California Renewal Communities (SCRC). In 1972, with Fr. Ralph Tichenor, SJ as President, Cardinal Timothy Manning commissioned SCRC to pastor Charismatic prayer groups in the parishes of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Southern California Renewal Communities (SCRC) was established that year as a legal non-profit religious organization to serve this burgeoning Renewal. An SCRC Service Center was opened in 1973.

Today, SCRC provides teaching, communication and guidance in bringing Charismatic Renewal into the heart of the Church. The annual SCRC Catholic Renewal Convention has grown to become the largest gathering of its kind in North America!